Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Black Boxes for Bikes

I stumbled across this blog post a couple of days ago: by a cyclist who happened to have a GPS system on him when he was hit by a car. And not just a GPS system - a fancy-shmantsy cycling training GPS system that measures every little thing, from altitude to speed to your heart rate and vital signs. This one (check it out in the post) was sensitive enough to record when the bike was hit. When it was moved to the side of the road. When he moved it to repair it afterward. It registered his heartrate spike on impact.

Okay, yeah. That's cool. I really can't see myself ever wanting something like this, or forking out the (fairly substantial) cash for it. Seems like the sort of equipment you'd only need if you were a pro cyclist (which this guy is.) Or competitive. Or a really, truly obsessive gearhead. But in this case, it turned out to be worth it, just for insurance purposes. Maybe they ought to install black boxes like this in cars too.

Because what really interested - and scared - me about this post was the blatant way the driver tried to lie her way out of her culpability: telling the police she didn't even hit the guy ... until they pointed out the dent he'd made in her hood. Then telling them that he'd been crossing the street illegally (until they mentioned that if she could see what direction he was crossing the street, then she could have seen him and stopped in time.) And it's also disturbing how little recourse anyone has, without eyewitnesses. It all become a case of 'your story against mine.' Until, in this case, he gets home and realizes he's got a record of the whole accident on his GPS device.

And what if he'd been killed? That GPS record would have made a huge difference in how the driver was prosecuted in that case.

Almost. Almost reason to get one.


  1. That is pretty cool. I stopped using cycle computers a number of years ago when I was spending more attention on keeping up my annual average speed than actually enjoying the ride.

    I've been in a number of close calls, and three of them I escaped injury (and collision) by paying close attention to the road.

    I've been 'hit' twice: Once at an intersection where a motorist didn't stop at a stop sign--I yelled and he stopped just in time for his bumper to touch my front fork. The other time I was stopped at an intersection and a motorist turned right illegally around me and scratched his door on my handlebar.

    Even though I was not even touched either time, it was enough to put me in shock for a good couple of hours afterward.

    - RG>

  2. Actually, my non-biking, used-for-geocaching, and used-for-driving directions GPS receiver from Garmin does "tracks" which records your GPS co-ordinates (including elevation, but none of the training stuff) and lets you download that information to another application, like Google Earth or Garmin's own Basecamp and Mapsource. Not sure if it includes speed, but you should be able to calculate that information. Not necessarily cheap, but not super expensive. You can get one for about $200 now + about $100 for the Canadian city maps.

  3. The terrible part of that story is that the police refused to accept the GPS evidence at all. The insurance company, luckily, did accept it, but the police did not.

  4. Only just found this story. Here's my GPS log of being hit on Colonel By last year (May 7th, 2010).